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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
It’s been an odd offseason for the Medfield High School football team. First, the Warriors lost their starting quarterback Ryan Eamer, who transferred to Xaverian. Then, in the middle of summer practices and conditioning, an impetigo outbreak on the MHS turf forced the Warriors off the practice field, and when they returned, long sleeves and leggings under all their pads were required to ensure the rashes stayed contained.
Finally, on Friday night, actual football became the focus for the Warriors in the form of a preseason scrimmage at TVL rival Millis. Still geared up in long sleeves and leggings, the Warriors shook off some rust on both sides of the ball, but the main story of the night was the two-way excellence of Mitchell Gonser. After converting from wideout where he was arguably Medfield’s top pass-catching option a season ago, Gonser took over the first-team reps under center on Friday night and impressed with both his legs and his arm. Midway through the first half, the 6’1,” 200 lbs junior avoided a blitz and scrambled 33 yards to the end zone untouched for six points. On Medfield’s next series, Gonser hooked up with senior captain and wideout Ben Adams twice, the first connection for 14 yards on an out-route towards the near sideline, and the second for 11 yards on a short slant over the middle. Gonser also found senior captain and wideout Liam O’Toole periodically throughout the scrimmage, most notably on a comeback route for a gain of 16 along the far sideline.
On the ground, senior Mason Giunta proved that he has only gotten better during the offseason after leading the team in rushing last year. The senior captain put together back-to-back 10+ yard gains on Medfield’s final drive of the first half, and when the ball wasn’t being shoved into his stomach, Giunta was there to contribute mightily with chip blocks on pass protections. Other key impact players during the scrimmage for Medfield on the offensive side of the ball came from its offensive line, with senior left guard Griffin Murphy and senior John Lowell paving the way for multiple long runs by both Gonser and Giunta.
Defensively, Gonser was just as dominant. Towards the end of the first half and the ball spotted at midfield for Millis, the middle-linebacker intercepted a tipped pass and ran in back 45 yards for a touchdown to knot the score at 14. Another standout on defense for the Warriors during Friday’s exhibition was senior captain and defensive end John Lowell. A 6’3,” 215 Ibs versatile tackling machine, Lowell was constantly breaking through into the backfield throughout the scrimmage, resulting in one sack and two tackles for loss.
Despite the loss of their 2016 starting quarterback and having to deal with adversity and missed practice time, as well as saying goodbye to a talented senior class, the Medfield Warriors are loaded with talent and speed this season. With guys like Giunta, Adams, and Gonser highlighting their offense, and anchors such as Lowell and Gonser on defense, there are some high expectations for this group as the regular season approaches.
The Warriors will open up the 2017 campaign at Dedham on Friday night under the lights.